‘The Witcher’: What Are the Scoia’tael, & Why Are They Important?

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The storyline of ‘The Witcher’ would never be complete without the unending conflict happening between humans and elves because we know that elves were on the Continent long before humans started populating the land. In that regard, we’ve seen the elves fighting back in the storyline of ‘The Witcher’ through the Scoia’tael. So, what is the Scoia’tael in ‘The Witcher,’ and why are they important?

The Scoia’tael is a group of elves and other non-human fighters that use guerilla tactics and other different actions to oppose the armies of the northern kingdoms of the Continent. They are led by Francesca, who is also the leader of the elves. And they are important because they are the fighters of the remaining elves.

We know that the elves have become a minority group on the Continent because they don’t multiply as fast as humans do and were driven out of their homes with their wars against humans. In that regard, the Scoia’tael are the ones that are trying to fight for the elves even though they know that they are up against great odds. Now, let’s learn more about the Scoia’tael.

The Scoia’tael explained

It was never a secret in the world of ‘The Witcher’ that humans are the dominant people in the Continent even though this wasn’t exactly the case years ago. That’s because the Continent’s original inhabitants were the elves, but an event called the Conjunction of the Spheres opened up portals that led to different dimensions throughout the vast multiverse.

In that regard, different creatures entered the Continent from other spheres, including humans, who became the new dominant creatures because of their ability to multiply faster and their penchant for being more violent and brutal than the elves.

After the humans became the new dominant people on the Continent, the elves were driven out of their homes due to the wars humans waged on them. The elves became the minority group on the Continent and were treated poorly by humans that encountered them. But despite that, they have found the strength to fight back during the events of ‘The Witcher’ as the elves used the issues between the different kingdoms of the Continent as a way for them to rise once more.

Scoiatael

At the head of the elves fighting back against the humans were the Scoia’tael. These were the fighting force of the elves and were the ones that were tasked to undertake different tasks that involved their fighting abilities. In that regard, they were the elites of the elves and were the ones that Francesca, the leader of the Aen Sidhe elves, relied on when it came to different skirmishes with human armies.

The word “Scoia’tael” can be directly translated to “squirrel tail” in the Elder speech in ‘The Witcher.’ They got their name because the fighters of the Scoia’tael usually had squirrel tails that were used to decorate their clothing. That is why Stregebor calls them the squirrels, as their name literally translates to squirrel tail.

Throughout the storyline of ‘The Witcher,’ Francesca leads the Scoia’tael against human racism throughout the Continent. But instead of using outright warfare to try to oppose the human kingdoms of the Continent, the Scoia’tael usually employed guerilla tactics that required them to ambush their targets and steadily weaken the armies of the northern kingdoms instead of meeting them on the battlefield. That’s why they usually raided supply routes that carried supplies back to the camps and cities of the northern kingdoms.

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But while the Scoia’tael were fighting on behalf of the elves, they weren’t innocent of heinous actions as well. They were committing terrorist acts by raiding supply routes regardless of whether or not the supplies were meant for human soldiers. On top of that, they also raided medical tents to kill wounded soldiers that had no way to fight back. In short, they were willing to do whatever it took for them to defeat the humans.

They were just as brutal as humans because they employed brutal tactics that allowed them to attack travelers, soldiers, and villages without even discriminating between fighters and civilians. As long as their targets were humans or human sympathizers, they did not care. And this was because they needed to be as brutal as the humans that ousted them from their homes centuries ago.

However, as we saw in ‘The Witcher,’ the Scoia’tael also ended up allying with Emperor Emhyr of the Nilfgaardian Empire because he allowed them to take back Cintra as one of their home bases. Another promise that Emhyr made was to return Dol Blathanna, the mythical home of the elves, back to them and make it an independent state that the humans would never be able to touch. In that regard, Francesca and the Scoia’tael agree to fight for Emhyr.

Why are the Scoia’tael important?

Throughout the storyline of the Scoia’tael in ‘The Witcher,’ they were perceived as extremists that ended up attacking different people and raiding supply routes for the sake of trying to bring back the glory of the elves. In fact, in episode 6 of season 3, they had a very important role in the story because Vilgefortz made an agreement to sneak them into Aretuza so that they could slaughter the mages and take the entire island of Thanedd back.

aretuza battle

In that regard, in episode 6, the Scoia’tael were responsible for nearly destroying Aretuza and killing all the mages. They could give the mages a hard time in that fight because they used Dimeritium-tipped arrows that the mages’ magic was weak against. This forced Tissaia to perform a spell of last resort called Alzur’s Thunder, which ultimately led to her committing suicide due to the cost that chaos demanded.

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Meanwhile, after the Scoia’tael were able to nearly destroy Aretuza and the Brotherhood of Mages, they returned to Nilfgaard, where Francesca was ordered to return to her people. But she was also ordered to leave the Scoia’tael behind because Emhyr wanted to use them as part of his main army during his war against the different northern kingdoms. The Nilfgaardian Emperor even said he was planning to put them on the frontlines, which means that the Scoia’tael would all die.

In that regard, the Scoia’tael became the reason why Francesca is now in the middle of a tough dilemma. Emhyr promised to kill all elves if Francesca didn’t leave the Scoia’tael with Nilfgaard. So, in a sense, she had to choose between the lives of all of the elves and the lives of the Scoia’tael fighters she cared about. And this might put her in a position to eventually rebel against Nilfgaard as well as this could be the only way for her to save the lives of all of the elves, including the Scoia’tael.

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